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Forensic Linguistics Consulting

Since its launch in 2008 CFL has engaged directly in investigative and evidential work in the civil and criminal courts in the UK and further abroad. We have provided evidence and investigative reports in more than 500 cases. As well as making a real contribution to the delivery of justice it is this applied work that inspires our research and informs our teaching. Some example cases that we have recently worked on are described below.

Please note that due to client confidentiality and the sensitive nature of our work, not all cases are displayed below.

2013

In the spring of 2013 Dr Jack Grieve working with Dr Dr Tim Grant examined the emails of Jamie and Debbie Starbuck. They were purportedly on a round-the-world trip together but Jamie was suspected of having murdered his wife and of sending emails home in her name. Unusually, Jack was able to analyse the emails 'blind' as Tim provided them to him in a structured order. The analysis identified a date on which emails from Debbie Starbuck's account shifted to be consistent with Jamie's written style and Jamie Starbuck was later convicted of Debbie's murder.

Dr Tim Grant Analysis of complaint letters for Hertfordshire police in a professional standards investigation

Defence Counsel, R v Ryan – Dr Krzysztof Kredens provided comments on the CPS expert’s report on authorship analysis of text messages in a murder trial.

Dr Tim Grant Profiling of threatening communications for a Scottish police force.

Defence Counsel, R v Armstrong - Dr Krzysztof Kredens provided a forensic authorship analysis of Facebook messages in a witness intimidation case.

Dr Tim Grant Analysis of critical blog posts for a significant UK defence contractor leading to identification of the employee as the writer of the blog.

Dr Tim Grant Metropolitan Police R v Ikumelo, Miles and Alimi – In a case of attempted murder of a police officer determination of slang meanings contained in rap lyrics in YouTube videos. Some of my evidence was agreed, some declared inadmissible. All three defendants were found guilty.

2012

In the summer of 2012 Dr Nicci MacLeod was asked by West Yorkshire Police to analyse two blackmail letters, received by elderly residents of a local housing estate. She concluded that there were a number of points of consistency with some writings seized from the police's chief suspect. Examples included some consistent misspellings and the splitting of compound words. For the trial early in 2013 the defence hired an opposing forensic linguist, and in an unusual move for a criminal trial, the judge required that the two experts met prior to testifying, to summarise points of agreement and disagreement. The jury convicted the defendant on all counts.

In May 2012 Dr Krzysztof Kredens was instructed by a solicitors' firm to comment on whether a limited-proficiency non-native speaker of English might have produced a complex business document. The case involved a trading dispute in which the document played a crucial role. Krzysztof examined the purported author's emails to establish a linguistic profile, and then analysed the lexical and syntactic structures of the disputed document. He concluded the non-native speaker was unlikely to have authored the document.

Dr Tim Grant Analysis of slang on Facebook site for South Wales police in an investigation of assault.

The London Court of International Arbitration – Dr Krzysztof Kredens provided an authorship analysis of a document in a trading dispute.

Dr Tim Grant with Dr Nicci MacLeod. Analysis of slang in diaries for Devon and Cornwall police in the stalking and attempted murder of Joss Stone.

In the Spring of 2012 Dr Tim Grant was approached by West Mercia Police investigating the rape of a child. In an interview the child had used sexual slang and names for parts of her body which were unfamiliar to her parents and immediate family. The defence tried to have the interview not admitted on the grounds that the terms were unclear. Tim provided evidence that the slang terms were well established within a particular social community and had clear and specific meanings. He was also able to note that the defendant was drawn from the community in which these terms were commonly used. The defence felt unable to sustain their argument against the interview and it was admitted as evidence. The case resulted in a conviction.

Dr Tim Grant Analysis of covert tapes for meaning in Police Service of Northern Ireland case.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Dr Krzysztof Kredens transcribed and translated a surveillance recording in a murder inquiry.

Dr Tim Grant Authorship analysis of online blogs in Ministry of Defence Police investigation of a soldier.

Dr Nicci MacLeod for West Yorkshire Police, R – v- Julie Dawn Lunn. Comparison of blackmailing letters with known writings of the defendant in a blackmail trial at Leeds Crown Court. Defendant was convicted on all counts.

Dr Tim Grant with Dr Jack Grieve Analysis of slang text messaging between co-accused. Acting for the defence in a murder case charges were dropped against individual defendant.

Dr Tim Grant Analysis of slang in transcript for West Midlands Police murder investigation.

Dr Tim Grant Analysis for complaint letters to a large multi-national corporation leading to the identification of the writer as being a member of the Board.

2011

Dr Tim Grant Authorship report provided to Kent Police for arson investigation. Letters had been received by police and local newspaper claiming responsibility. Contributed to guilty plea.

Hampshire Constabulary – Dr Krzysztof Kredens and Prof. Peter French of JP French Associates analysed background conversation recorded during a 999 call in a GBH inquiry (case managed by JP French Associates).

Dr Tim Grant Authorship analysis for Cumbria Police of letters and stories claimed to have been written by an eleven year old girl alleging sexual abuse by her headmaster. Analysis contributed to investigation of mother for perversion of the course of justice. No charges brought.

Dr Tim Grant Authorship analysis of blog posts for private individual.

2010

Dr Tim Grant Cambridgeshire Police - R v Adderley – Authorship report identifying suspect as the most likely writer of abusive online conversation with an underage girl.

Dr Tim Grant Profiling for City of London Police of a letter sent to supermarket headquarters containing biological agent.

Hampshire Constabulary – Dr Krzysztof Kredens and Prof. Peter French of JP French Associates analysed background conversation recorded during a 999 call in a murder inquiry (case managed by JP French Associates).

Dr Tim Grant Authorship report for BAE systems identifying writers of threatening communication sent to senior staff. Report resulted in an employee confession in police investigation.

Hampshire Constabulary, Dr Krzysztof Kredens transcribed and translated surveillance recordings in a murder inquiry (case managed by JP French Associates).

Police Service of Northern Ireland, Dr Krzysztof Kredens analysed background conversation recorded during a 999 call in a murder inquiry (case managed by JP French Associates).

Dr Tim Grant Authorship analysis for defence in case of alleged police corruption. Report assisted outcome in which CPS dropped all charges.

Cheshire Constabulary, Krzysztof Kredens analysed the translation of a police interview with an alleged rape victim (case managed by JP French Associates).

2009

Dr Tim Grant Stafordshire Police - R v Birks – Authorship analysis report written identifying the suspect as the most likely writer of disputed text messages in murder case. The messages were sent from the victim’s phone after her death and appeared to provide an alibi for the suspect. Suspect pleaded guilty on first day of trial sentenced to life with a minimum tariff of 19 years.

Dr Tim Grant Metropolitan Police - R v Ogundele – Report written in a conspiracy to murder trial interpreting an internet relay chat and phone conversation. The original involved a large amount of internet abbreviations and additionally street slang. A translation was provided into standard English and contributed to a guilty verdict. Ogundele and co-conspirator sentence to 32 years.

The Netherlands Forensic Institute, Dr Krzysztof Kredens and Prof. Peter French of JP French Associates carried out forensic speaker comparison in a murder inquiry (case managed by JP French Associates).

Dr Tim Grant West Midlands Police – Sociolinguistic profile written on a series of extortion letters sent to a supermarket.

Dr Tim Grant National Domestic Extremism Team / Hampshire Constabulary. Operation Heron – Sociolinguistic profile written for a series of 57 sexually and racially abusive letters. I advised on and contributed to an appeal on BBC Crimewatch which led to an arrest. Trial scheduled 2010.

Dr Tim Grant Lancashire Constabulary – Professional Services Department. Authorship analysis report of a fraudulent business plan identified the likely writer as a police office from within the force. Trial scheduled February 2010.

Dr Tim Grant Control Risks - Provided authorship analysis report concerning who sent particular emails for private client in child custody case.

2008

Dr Tim Grant Defence report written criticising authorship analysis in a prosecution for murder. Prosecution expert report withdrawn.

Dr Tim Grant Report written for Independent Police Complaints Authority concerning breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Dr Tim Grant Cambridgeshire Police R v Alder – Authorship analysis report written analysing suicide note and comparative documents. Suspect was shown to be likely author of suicide note and was found guilty of fraud and firearms offences. Sentenced to 14 years.

Dr Tim Grant Authorship analysis Report written for legal mediator in shipping industry concerning letter-writing campaign against company.

Dr Tim Grant Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman – report written concerning the alteration of official police log book from the 1980s.

2007

Dr Tim Grant University Kwa-Zulu Natal – authorship analysis report written to determine that member of staff wrote anonymous letters to media. Led to individuals dismissal and used in an industrial tribunal in Durban.

Dr Tim Grant Surrey Police / Social services – Following a suicide a teenaged girl’s diary, written in code was recovered. Diary was decoded and read to determine whether girl had been abused.

Dr Tim Grant Control Risks - Provided authorship analysis report concerning who sent particular emails for private client in child custody case.

Dr Tim Grant Northumberland Police. R v Hodgson – Murder case. Provided analytic support to Prof Malcolm Coulthard in writing authorship analysis report concerning text messages sent fro victims phone. Contributed to a guilty verdict and text messaging analysis was upheld at attempted appeal hearing.

2006

Dr Tim Grant Metropolitan Police R v Barot - Operation Rhyme. Overnight analysis of terrorist conspiracy documents to write authorship analysis report. Determination that Barot was most likely author of the documents was the only evidence at point of charge although considerable other evidence was accumulated after charge. Barot pleaded guilty just before trial and was sentenced to 40 years 9reducd to 30 on appeal).

Dr Tim Grant R v James. Murder case. Report written for defence rebutting prosecution expert report into authorship of SMS text messages. On basis of this report (and report from a second expert) prosecution report was withdrawn and charges reduced to conspiracy to murder.

Dr Tim Grant Lincolnshire police – harassment/stalking case. Report written identifying an ex-partner as the most likely writer of multiple letters cards and other communications. On basis of report a court order was taken out.

2005

Dr Tim Grant R  v. Fell – Report written for defence rebutting prosecution linguistic report in a stalking case. Prosecution report suggested judgements of dangerousness and harm to victim could be made from linguistic analysis.

Dr Tim Grant R v. Innes – Two reports written for Professional Standards department of Metropolitan Police in Operation Zennor. Initial report provided a socio-linguistic profile of a writer of anonymous letters. Following arrest a comparitative analysis was performed linking the anonymous texts with those of the suspect.

Dr Tim Grant Devon and Cornwall Police Operation Sofia – Report written for investigation in a no-body-found murder enquiry involving analysis of a diary. The purpose of the report was to determine whether the writer knew the missing person was dead.

Dr Tim Grant Report written for NHS trust concerning abusive letters believed to be written by a psychiatric patient.

2004

Dr Tim Grant Report written examining copying of a patent application in the textiles industry. Report used successfully to challenge application.

2003

Dr Tim Grant Authorship analysis report written for private individual accused of sending abusive communications.

Dr Tim Grant Plagiarism / Copyright infringement report written concerning a children’s novel.

2002

Dr Tim Grant Authorship analysis report written concerning abusive letters written by a member of staff in a Leicester Higher Education College. Report used to show due diligence in disciplinary measures leading to staff dismissal.

 






© Centre for Forensic Linguistics, Aston University, Birmingham, UK, 2015